Just something I’ve been writing. Feedback would be great, thanks!
There he stood, on the porch, by the front door, his hat clutched in his right hand. Sunlight lit up behind him. His hair glowed, infused with reddish glints. Grace rose and walked to him, even though she knew her mother’s eyes were staring at the back of her head with spite and anger at the loss of motherly control.
“I know I’m not what you thought I’d be for your daughter, ma’am.” Ruffie spoke over Grace’s shoulder. “But you have my word I’ll always provide for her and love her like I do right now.”
He switched his gaze into Grace’s eyes when the indignant huff and retreating footsteps indicated disgust and reluctant acceptance from Grace’s mother.
“You know I will, don’t you Grace?” He closed the distance so that she could smell the fresh sweat and wood smoke on his skin. He leaned his face in nearer to hers. “You know that, don’t you?”
Her answer for him was a deep breath exhaled and a tiny nod. Blush rose from her neck as the giddy joy of standing so near to him flooded through her body. He raised his empty hand and touched her collarbone lightly, tracing the bone and caressing her pale skin. His fingers were rough and scratchy. The touch left behind a trail of fire that burned and swirled with something she was not yet that familiar with. Whatever it was she felt now had a life of its own, and every cell became aware of everything around it. Every bit of fabric against her skin suddenly felt raw and sharp. The sun seemed to glow even brighter. The smell of the early lilacs outside became more heady and even with this fire in her belly; she felt a slight course of nausea. She steadied herself by placing her hand on the door jamb. This ghostly urge inside of her wasn’t exactly new, but she now felt there was more to this wanting and need that seemed to haunt her body more and more. At night, alone in her room, she found she could conjure up this same feeling in a guilty way, touching her body and thinking of Ruffie. Standing there now, she blushed more, recalling her own self-ministrations of release.
“When I first saw you that day last spring, this is what I wanted to touch,” he whispered, and retraced the path of his caress. His breath echoed the cigar he smoked before he met with her. “You seemed so delicate. I never knew you were so strong. Standing there laughing with your friend. I never knew I could be something to you. I dreamed it though. I wanted it. I wanted you.”
She leaned in towards him, brazen in the late afternoon sun, there on the porch. And then she kissed him. Only their lips met in a gentle chaste touch. She felt his chapped lips against hers. This tiny kiss, this sweet and innocent gift to each other remained just so on the outside. But Grace felt as though this kiss was the most revealing she had ever let him see her. She became naked in her own wants of this fine young man in front of her. She knew he would always be hers. That she now had control over his entire being. This good and kind man would give her his heart and soul and she wanted to nurture that and care for him always. She wanted to give him back all that he gave her. And under this all, Grace was shocked to find herself wanting to tear all his clothes off and attack his body with a passion now awake, pacing and growling within her own body.
They broke the kiss and smiled at each other. Unspoken understanding was theirs already. He winked at her, and she knew that he felt this passion too, and she also knew that he guessed at her own lustful thoughts. They broke out in huge guffaws together.
“I’ll come by for you tomorrow at 11. Give you time so you can sort things out here with your mama.”
“There’s not much to sort out Ruffie, she’s a pig-headed old cow and you know it. She’s not ever going to be happy about this, and I’d just as soon marry you right now and be done with this.”
“Lord, you are a stubborn one ain’t ya? You won’t back down either one of you. Well, this is all your own business, I guess.” He raised his eyebrow at her and she nodded. “Just don’t let it get to the point that you might have nothing left. This is your family anyhow. That’s something that lots of folks don’t have.”
She huffed at that, sounding remarkably and ironically just like her mother; the woman she detested so much. “Don’t you say a word!” she admonished when he opened his mouth to say just that. “I am nothing like her at all. Nothing.”
“Nope, then. Not at all,” he smirked and put his hat back on his head. Before turning to leave, he leaned towards her again and whispered, “Do you got any more of them kisses for me Grace? I sure wouldn’t mind another.”
“You’re a rotten scoundrel Mr. Payette, and you’re trying to make a bad girl out of me.”
“Never” he said and puckered his lips.
“That’s too bad then.” She leaned in to kiss him one more time. “I wouldn’t mind trying to be a bad girl at all.”
He grinned at her and turned and left. She watched him walk down the steps and turned onto to the street below. He walked with sureness in his step that only a man who knows that his woman loves him has.
Her mother was waiting for her in the kitchen when she came back into the house. The raised brow upon her mother’s face set off some deep-seated ire within Grace. That look, above all else, she hated the most. That look said superiority and judgment. The familiar churn in her belly set Grace’s tone for the conversation.
Grace lifted her chin and said “Now don’t you start, Mother. I will not have this argument anymore. My mind is made up, it’s modern times. I can marry whoever I want and do whatever I want and you know it.”
Grace’s mother, a woman of means and hateful beginnings, rose, with great inner difficulty and walked towards her to embrace her child. “I know. I just wish it could be different. Your father can’t bear this. I cannot say I can either. But I would not be a good Christian if I didn’t say what’s on my mind. He’s a poor miner. He shuns the church. He’s rough. I can’t stand by and watch you lower yourself and not say a thing at all.”
Grace stiffened in her mother’s arms. “This whole town was built by men like Ruffie. Why, you and Father wouldn’t be where you are if it weren’t for men like him. All this money you have to buy you all that you want and need? It comes from men like him.”
She stepped back and looked into her mother’s face. Louise was a strong woman, with clear blue eyes, her face lined and hair a bit gray at the temples, but she still held herself in a fashionable regard, and kept her figure neat. Grace’s own face was a stark reminder to Louise of her own youth, long passed. Louise wondered to herself how her daughter could be the one to defy her family. Then she recalled all the times that Grace had tried her patience as a child, and a rueful smile crossed her lips. Climbing trees. Cussing. Stealing licorice whips from the mercantile. Tearing out the ribbons from her hair and throwing them in the dirt after church, in front of all the other horrified mothers. Running naked across the lawn. Hearing whispers of Grace sneaking out to see this man when she had been forbidden to see him. Louise felt as if she might fall backwards with how much love and hate it stirred within her. This young woman standing in front of her, with a stern look and desperate eyes. Did she really come from me? wondered Louise.
“I’m marrying him tomorrow. We’ll be at the courthouse just past noon. If you want to see me marry, I would love to have you and Father there.” The lie felt sour on her tongue.
Her mother looked at her feet, and shook her head. “I … I can’t Grace. You know your father. I can’t. You don’t understand. Your father, he’s… he can be so difficult.” She looked into her daughter’s eyes. “You’re better than this, Grace Caldwell. Your father and I raised you up to be a good daughter and a good wife to someone better than that.” Grace stared hard, and before Louise dropped her gaze, Grace saw the conflict there.
“Fine,” Grace said. “It’s clear to me that you are spiteful and hateful. I don’t understand you, Mother. I never will. I wish you would stand up to Father. And you know I am just as stubborn as you are anyways There’s not a thing you can say to me to make me change my mind.”
She left the kitchen and went to her bedroom, where her trunk sat on the floor, open and full of all her belongings. She regarded her dresses and petticoats and all of her other belongings nestled inside, and then kicked the trunk as hard as she could.
Louise heard the violent thud, knowing her daughter’s fierce temper not unlike her father’s, and dropped her face into her hands and wept.